Fear of Success

You are invitedAll the music that I had been practicing for weeks poured out of my brain and splashed on the floor. I was paralyzed until Mom came up and retrieved me. She took me back to my seat where I buried my face in her breast wishing I could disappear.

As I sat and watched G’daughter (teenager) struggle with homework this past weekend, I observed her paralysis from fear of failure and fear of embarrassment because she couldn’t do something. My first thought was that someone had taught her and I to fear failure. Then I realized that the opposite was true. Fear of failure is as natural as our need for love and belonging. It is not taught… it just is.

It’s interesting to look back at other times when I feared failing. The first time I had tosuccess failure make a presentation as part of a team project at work. At the last minute, I tried to back out, but the team would not let me. Then I started using a different (chickenshit) technique. Whenever I had to “perform”, I wouldn’t tell my friends, family, or coworkers just in case I embarrassed myself. So, when I was in a triathlon, I didn’t tell my friends or family…. Not even my kids… just in case I failed.

As it turned out, my performance events were successful (except for the piano recital). Over the years, I have successfully and comfortably spoken before audiences of 300 or more.

I now realize that I denied myself the pleasure of being comforted by friends and family when I fail and the joy of sharing my success.

So for my upcoming storytelling event, I have invited everyone.

Stay Tuned….

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Bouncing is Hard

Wi am a writeroke up this morning with an insatiable urge to write! Haven’t felt this way in a longgg time! Thoughts are swarming like a bee hive. Thoughts about retirement, options (i.e., what to do with my time), noise, routine/ruts, relationships, etc, etc. Blog title is indicative of my minds activity this morning. But why today?

Last night I meditated for the first time in months. Two days ago I reduced one of my medications by half. cut a pllYesterday I took a very strenuous muscle building class that sucked out some of the stored fat.  Moved back home. Began taking Vitamin B12 in hopes of restoring my memory cells. Any or all of these things could have triggered this mental energy. But… why ask why? Because, all of my thoughts are connected but each idea deserves its own space.

Speaking of space…. I’m trying to find a creative space in which to work similar to when I used to write at our condo in Ocean City. When looking back at previous blogs, it’s easy to point out the ones written at the beach, because they were so fluent and more importantly…. they were interesting. Makes me want to build a “she shed”, which is one of the latest trends. It’s akin to a “man cave”, but softer, lighter, cleaner, and smells better.

But I digress and considering this mornings’ state of mind with ideas popping, I suspect I will have to continuously pull myself back from my beehive mind. I even find myself editing as I write which is a major no-no­­­­­­­ for writers.

dad deathBouncing began when Dad died and escalated with semi-retirement. Psychiatrists always consider the relationship between childhood life events and ones’ development. Since our childhoods revolve around our parents or other caregivers, it follows that losing a parent is a traumatic event. It’s also interesting that the type of relationship one has with a caregiver doesn’t matter…. their loss still affects us.

Since Dad was my rock and the last parent to “transition”, my immediate experience was a feeling of release. Because, not only was he my rock but my tether. Like a hotair balloon ride… I was able to float off into the world and wow did I float. First stop was Dubai where I taught for a year followed by a four-year sojourn in San Diego to take my dream job that turned into a nightmare which I’m finally ready to talk about in another blog.

Dubai was never a dream. Was not on my radar and I barely knew anything about it. As part of my untethering, I was looking for an opportunity to work in a country where Spanish was the primary language. So, I posted my resume on an education website, and up popped the United Arab Emirates, Ras al Khaimah (aka UAE, RAK, which is like a suburb of Dubai). So, without any other offers, and lots of encouragement from Hubby who had also recently been untethered…. off we went.

San Diego resulted from a surprising rejection. While doing volunteer work at a business development office, I learned about a paid opportunity that completely matched my background and interest. Having been told that I was a shoe-in for the job, I submitted my resume but didn’t even get a call to interview. Not that I am egotistical, but…. I know what I know and I knew I was the best candidate so I was flabbergasted when they hired someone else.

Recognizing how much I wanted that job made me realize that I was ready to work plusnew job my ego was significantly bruised. So I had to “show them” and myself that I could get an even better job. I launched on a deliberate search for what I assumed would be my last paid employment. Won’t go into the details of the job search, suffice to say that I got hired in San Diego.

Funny thing is that Hubby and I previously took two separate trips down south in search of a place to retire on/near the water; in an urban setting; with good weather year-round; walkable; purchase price below $300k; and, with a low cost of living. After two visits to the Carolinas (Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Asheville), Savannah, GA, Charlotte, and Orlando) we decided that what we wanted, did not exist and gave up our quest. Shockingly, our dream was fulfilled in San Diego… except for the part about the cost of living.

The last 4 glorious years were spent between the Washington DC area (home) and onBouncing

San Diego’s Coronado Island “where the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high….” As I sit at our dining room table (home) amongst boxes to be unpacked from our latest bounce across country, I am reflecting on the difficulty of bouncing as one gets older. Like most of the things done in my early years… everything is more difficult now. But that’s another story.

Stay Tuned

Life is an Unknown

Snowbird 2Every so often, hubby and I move from San Diego to Alexandria, VA and back again. We are reverse snowbirds, because we usually go east during winter. That sounds crazy, but we want to be with the family for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Plus, the oldest G’daughter has asked us in a threatening way “you will be back for the holidays… won’t you?

The most amazing thing about life is the unknown. We don’t know what will happen next year or next month or in the next minute. How could I have not been consciously aware of that! Here I am busy planning for the unknown? Huh… that doesn’t make sense!

So, I’m stymied and in limbo surrounded by packing boxes for our pilgrimage back East. Friends ask if we are coming back to San Diego next year and like a nincomunknown

poop I answer that I don’t know. Then I remind myself that next year is an unknown. Therefore, I am justified in saying that I don’t know so I don’t have to feel stupid because I don’t have an answer.

But I can talk about what “I want to happen next year”. I want to come back to San Diego at a time that is convenient and stay for as long as I want. A “convenient” time is when there is a place available at a reasonable price overlooking some piece of the San Diego Bay near the friends that we have accumulated over the last four years. Wow…. That’s quite a wish list and that’s why it’s so difficult to answer the question not only for others but for ourselves.

We have actually found Paradise and there is a whole island of people who say the same thing literally every day. No-to-low crime; constant sunshine (except for the periodic days when we wait for the “marine layer” to burn off; average year-round temps of 70 degrees; all the essentials (googobs of restaurants; 2 hardware stores; 2 live theaters; live Coronado heartmusic on the Bay every weekend; 1 movie theater; yoga and exercise studios galore including beach yoga, etc. etc. Our neighbors have put together a potluck with games every Wednesday and Saturday night. So, between our community activities and island activities… our dance card is full. And the icing is that everything is within a 1-mile radius, which means you don’t need a car.

So why on earth would we want to move back East!!! The obvious answer is that family trumps everything! Our kids and G’kids live back East. Plus, as strange as it may sound, I miss the changing seasons, which add a rhythm to life. As Summer nears an end, you begin to feel the change in the air as temperatures cool and leaves change colors. When Winter nears its end, you begin to think about Spring and warmer temperatures. Then as Spring is ending you begin planning for Summer and the cycle repeats.Family

Recently, a friend told me that the trouble with year-round sunshine is that you don’t get a chance to rest. You run from one activity to another and exhaust yourself. But the biggest downsides to living in San Diego are high rent/mortgage; noise from our largest neighbor… Naval Air Station; and everyday sounds from urban living. We get truck noise, jet plane noise, helicopters, and dogs  yapping.

Note: I am reading a blog by a couple that sold everything; bought a catamaran; and, are now cruising on the Erie Canal for a year. This is dangerous reading for me because I might start dreaming that it would be a really cool thing to do next!!!

Guess we’ll have to wait and see how life unfolds.

Stay tuned

Too Many Options

DoorsResearchers have shown (my favorite phrase) that too many options lead to the “paradox of choice”. The New York Times refers to it as “The Paralyzing Problem of Too Many Choices”. If the choices are six or less, then one can figure it out. But when choices exceed six,  we tend to talk away. For example, when you go into a grocery store to purchase a tube of toothpaste, you may be confronted with 10 different choices. Oy Vey… which one to choose? Do you want whiter teeth, or stronger teeth, or fluoride, or minty breath, and the choices go on and on and on. At some point (around 6) people just walk away without making a decision!Where to live decision chart 3

Our current dilemma is deciding where to live… to snowbird or not to snowbird. To be around our grandchildren or not; to be near old friends or not; to live urban or suburban; to experience four seasons or two.  Of course, these choices are not mutually exclusive, but it is hard to choose because I want to have my cake and eat it too (especially now that I’m on Weight Watchers.)

So, Clay and I have finally reached a middle-of-the road decision. We will move back home, but pack our furnishings in storage for the likely event that we will return to San Diego. If we don’t return to SD then we will have the storage company sell our goods. Whew… that’s a load off our minds.

Now what should we pack and leave in SD and what should we take?

Stay tuned………..

 

 

 

 

Ignorance is Bliss

Colson Whitehead, Author Underground Railroad

 

Being born in the semi-south (northern Virginia) and raised during the 50ties, I had a brush with segregation. I use the term brush because when compared to my more southern counterparts, my life was a piece of cake. I recall that I could not try on hats at the local Woodrow and Lothrop department store. I could not go to the movie theater one block from my house, and could not eat in local restaurants. Nor could I attend local swimming pools, skating rinks, and schools and neighborhoods were segregated. These were just a few of the many things that were part of my life in the semi-south. It was easy to view these things as “the way life is”. Then 40 years later my education about the system of slavery began.

My mis-education about the system of segregation and slavery was based upon the minute information disclosed during elementary school history class which was buttressed by the sanitized movies about the wonderful lives of slaves (aka Gone with the Wind). Even Bill O’Reilly said slaves at the white house were “well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government.” Whitehead’s book, Underground Railroad, turned my thinking about the institution of slavery upside down and inside out.

I read Whiteheads’s book during an intersection of events. First, was a couples vacation to Charleston, South Carolina, which I learned was ground zero for the slave industry. The second event was the receipt of a Smithsonian magazine titled Black in America prompted by the opening of the  African American Museum. The third occurred because I was desperately looking for a good book to read, which led me to the New York Times book review where The Underground Railroad was listed. Finally, I joined a book club and naturally the book being read this month is The Underground Railroad.

I probably would have overlooked any one of these events and filed it away under miscellaneous knowledge soon to be forgotten. It was the convergence of the four events that has thrown me into a tailspin.

While visiting Charleston, I was able to view the history of the major center of the slave slave-posterindustry from a purely business perspective. How well organized it was with great record keeping systems.. At one point, there were 40 different auction businesses housing brokers with jail cells for the “enslaved Africans.” It was in Charleston that I learned the term “enslaved Africans” as the correct new terminology that acknowledges the humanity of people considered property. The auction houses were the terminus for a network of slave catchers, slave thieves, and brokers ranging across the southern states. When someone needed money they would simply sell some of their “property” through this network. Viewing this from a business perspective allowed me to ignore the emotional impact of selling children away from their parents and wives from their husbands.

When I returned home from Charleston, the Smithsonian magazine was there to continue my education. It was filled with stories from the new African American museum which addressed the contributions of Enslaved Africans to the development of the United States. It described the migration of enslaved Americans after the 13th Amendment was passed (12/6/1865) and the effects of that migration. Then when I picked up the Underground Railroad all the emotions began to flow as I read of the degradation, beatings, hangings, maiming, rape, and psychological damage inflicted upon my ancestors. His book is based upon “slave” oral histories captured by the Library of Congress wrapped in incredible creative writing skills.  The “business perspective” barrier that I had erected came crashing down around my ankles.

Now I am faced with book club where I will be the only brown skinned person in the room. This should be interesting.

Good Job!

Knee 3An older woman walked into an exercise studio filled with women average age 30-something. Instructor demonstrated exercises that would be covered in the class. A helpful lady next to older woman introduced herself and re-explained what the instructor just went over. Twice during the hour-long exercise, the helpful lady told the older woman that she was doing a GOOD JOB! At the end of class, the helpful lady went out of her way to befriend the older woman and again told her what a GOOD JOB she did.

It is obvious that the helpful lady assumed that the older woman would need help understanding and doing the exercises. As you may have guessed…. I was the Older Woman. I was offended and found myself explaining that I had done a triathalon (my one big claim to fame) and that I was trying this class because I needed to step down from a bootcamp that I have been taking (which was true). Then I got angry with myself for being defensive.

I was defensive because I’ve been feeling my age lately. Because, I can no longer do what I once did. My body snaps, crackles, and pops like a box of Rice Krispies.  Occasionally, I wear a knee brace to stave off the knee replacement that I will need in the future. I sometimes need a heating pad for my back after a long bike ride. I refer to myself as an aging athlete, and It’s clear that I’m no longer a spring chicken, but I’m not ready to be written off. I’m disheartened that people look at me and see an “older woman”.

Then I remembered an “older woman” that I knew from a prior exercise class. She too was an aging athlete. She could no longer do century bike rides (100 miles), and had cut back to half centuries. I guess she was 10 years senior to me. I also remembered that, unbeknownst to her, she was a role-model for me.

I hope I can be a role-model for others.

Stay tuned

Sipping My Tennessee Honey Jack

tempAlways needed to be in charge. To pull the strings. Always knew how to do it better. But that’s okay, because I loved juggling projects, customers, employees and maneuvering through the minutia.

But, being in charge is like the burden of Sisyphus, because no matter how hard you push, there is always a new bolder and another hill. After awhile what used to be a challenge becomes a problem, a headache,  or pain in the derriere.

As a business owner, I operated in the fast lane. Ate problems for breakfast, and asked for seconds. As a university professor I shifted over to the middle lane and problems were primarily caused by coddled students who couldn’t accept anything short of an “A” grade, plus demanding adjuncts who didn’t understand that adjunct meant temp. As a consultant, I eased into the right lane where I took on projects as and when I chose. Life was easy and good as I cruised down the right lane.

One day, while sitting on my back deck working on a cient project and sipping my icetea, I momentarily lost my way. It was as if a blinding migraine headache had struck and I couldn’t think straight. Suddenly I had a need to be a mover and shaker again! Wanted to prove to myself that I still had “it”. Wanted back into the fast lane! Like a mother, I had forgotten the pain of childbirth (aka management).

Took on a killer job only to find that there were too many jockeys and not enough horse, anddd… that I was the horse. Like being on a stage with Penn and Teller, I had been operating under the illusion that I was in charge. When the reality lightbulb went on, I knew it was time to take over the reins and pull back. But the most important lesson was that I did not need to prove to anyone including myself, that I still had it. What a humongous waste of time that was.

I no longer care about the marketplace. I no longer care about customers, contracts, or unintended consequences of self-driving cars. Thinking about Trump and his ignorant follower’s raises my blood pressure.  I no longer care. Yes, these things matter, but I’m not in charge. I am not responsible. It’s not my problem. I don’t have to plan, implement, or sweat it.I’ve seen what’s behind the curtain and it is not pretty.  It’s time for other folk to worry about the minutia.

I’ve now moved off the highway to the grandstand and am immensely enjoying watching the silliness, the puffery, and the inane while sipping my Tennessee Honey Jack.

Stay tuned

Take Small Bites…

Bayshore Bikeway 2“Real bicyclists” travel the 27-mile Bayshore Bikeway as a warmup to their century rides. My balcony overlooks part of the Bikeway so I cannot escape these energizer bunnies who I also see at the local coffee shop. They are all ages, shapes, and sizes. In fact, I’ve often wondered how someone can be fat and a bicyclist, but that’s another story.

The Bikeway is well known in the San Diego biking community, and watching the cyclists makes me nostalgic, because somewhere in me is a woman who would easily bike 25, 35, 50 miles or more. This woman, AthLEticA, was an avid racquetball player, bicyclist, so-so tennis player, and skier.

AthLEticA has been responsible for talking me into activities ending in knee surgery’s, back aches, foot sprains, and has caused many dollars in contributions to the medical industry. Therefore, I have told her that under no circumstance would I tackle the Bikeway, but yesterday, she and my husband conspired against me. He suggested that we do 5 miles of the route. At the 5-mile mark the ride turned into a challenge to see which one of us would cry uncle, and turn around.  Since both of us are extremely competitive, we ended up doing the entire 27-mile route.

Message 1… if you want to do something big, break it up into little pieces

Message 2 …. Push yourself to do what you thought you couldn’t

Next Stop…. Appalachian Trail!!

Stay tuned….

Regret

When we lose someone through divorce or death, we grieve. When someone physically hurts us, we first feel pain then anger. Looking into the eyes of a toddler makes us smile and we experience joy. These are spontaneous emotions. Regret is a different story.

regret 2Regret is a man-made emotion. Not spontaneous, but deliberate. So when she asked me if I had any regrets, I was stumped. Apparently, she imagined that during the first part of my retirement, I would reflect on the past and have some regrets. My response to her was that I couldn’t regret that which I didn’t do, because there is no way to know the road not taken. As Frank Sinatra said… “regrets I’ve had a few, but few to mention … I planned each charted course, each careful step along the way… I did it my way.”

That was when I realized that regret is not a real emotion like grief, anger, or joy. It is a deliberate decision to feel bad. Hmmm… but that doesn’t make sense. Why would anyone choose to feel bad. But, that is what many of us do. We dwell. We ruminate. We consider the “what if”.

That is not my way. I recognize that the past contains many lessons, but what is done is done.

I have no regrets, but have learned many lessons.

Stay tuned….

Every Day is a New Day

the good lifeI keep having these “best ever” days, because moving to a new place means that all experiences are new. Everywhere I go, every thing I do is new. It’s the life a child lives. The difference is that I don’t have a parent telling me ” no don’t touch that”. I get to fully experience everything.

Yesterday we began the day at a Ted Talks lecture at UCSD and ended the day at a James Bond symphony starring Sheena Easton conducted by one of the original Bond music producers. I was moved to standing applause several times. I simply could not sit still. I had to acknowledge the stupendous music (not often I get to use the word stupendous). Aside from the incredible music, the experience was flavored with a mix of nostalgia for the old James Bond films, with full orchestral sound that they don’t seem to do anymore.

clay at Sheena Easton concert 2Then we discovered another opportunity to be kids again… there was a group at the concert hall that does “walk arounds” in costume. For example, they were at the concert dressed as characters from various Bond films. (That’s Clay in photo with one of the characters.) Then we learned that we too could participate in their “walk arounds”. So, just like children… we can dress up and play.

Life in San Diego is like a drink of water from a freshwater spring….

Stay tuned for more “new day” experiences.